Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Playing the Odds

I’ve been playing Dust Tactics for a couple days now and I think I gained enough insight to compare the combat systems of Dust Tactics and Tannhauser.

The first thing I noticed about DT is that any single die roll has only two possible odds for any given result. You are either trying to obtain a (+) or a “blank”, so the odds are always 33% for a (+), and 66% for a “blank”. In Tannhauser however, the odds of obtaining any individual number is of course 10% on a D10, but the odds of obtaining a success is effected by the numerical range determined by the character’s combat value. For example, if your combat value is 6, the range is 4-10 (10-6=4), or a 70% chance of getting a “hit” So, if you roll four dice in DT you have only a 8.25% chance of scoring four (+). In Tannhauser the chance of scoring four hits is a little more than double at 17.5%.

But even though the chance of hitting in Tannhauser is double that of DT, Tannhauser’s “Shock Roll” system prevents most of the hits scored in Tannhauser. For example: if your roll 3 hits on a combat roll, the target then makes a Shock Roll which is always four dice. So the chance of blocking any hits is on average 50%, and it’s always that way for most characters. DUST Tactics however, uses a cover system based on both the number of hits scored and on the type of cover. So in DT if you roll 3 hits a squad in soft cover, the target rolls three dice, with an approximate 11% chance of blocking the hits. Of course that only for a 1 die equals 1 damage attack, some DT attacks cause multiple damage point per die. Another thing to note is that in Tannhauser you may often ignore wounds by spending a Command Point.

Well what do all these numbers add up to? With out going into more depth it’s pretty obvious that DT is far deadlier than Tannhauser. Tannhauser used to be a very bloody game, in the original version characters often died before they could act. So, FFG decided to tone down the weapons and reshuffle the dice pools, making for a kinder gentler war. The old version was not unplayable, and games did go much faster, but there was no depth to the game. If you have ever played Tannhauser by the version 1.0 rules, then you know how Tannhauser would play if it were as deadly as DUST Tactics is now.

But what if squads in DT were as survivable as characters in Tannhauser 2.0? It’s hard to say with out rewriting most of DT’s rules, but you can get a vague idea by imagining if every attack, was met by a Tannhauser style Shock Roll. Basically think of how a DUST Tactics game would run if everyone, even vehicles, had soft cover all the time. There would be a good chance that no one would die in three or four turns.

However, these comparison are not really fair, because the scale of the two games is so different. In my view both Tannhauser and DUST Tactics have very robust and deep combat systems. They both also do a good job of representing the type of combat being portrayed.

Well that’s all for today, I know that was quick, and maybe a little confusing, but I  just want to give players who have played on game but not the other an idea of how the combat differs. I may delve deeper into this subject at a later date.